The Charthouse Primary School educator’s interest in our wonderful canine chums has grown and evolved in the past few years from a simple love of dogs, to actively engaging in saving many of their lives and finding loving homes for those so desperately in need.
“I found my calling when I first set foot in the Dogs' Refuge Home in Perth, as a volunteer dog walker,” she says.
“Before long I was helping with volunteer inductions and upskill training, and from that experience I’ve gradually developed an education program.”
The refuge is WA’s largest dog shelter and takes in more than 1300 dogs a year that have been lost, abandoned, surrendered or mistreated.
Path’s aim with her program is to integrate responsible dog ownership, including safety around dogs, into the WA schools’ Health curriculum.
“When it comes to children and dogs, prevention is better than cure,” she says.
“The key message for parents is to keep their children (and dogs) safe by teaching boundaries, personal space and respect for dogs in the home and in public spaces.”
Animal welfare overlaps into many subject areas and until current laws are reformed/strengthened to recognise animals as sentiment beings, Path says, education is the key to preventing abuse, dog bites, neglect and ‘backyard prisoners’.
In December, the committed animal advocate took part in her fifth ‘In the Doghouse’ charity event – where participants spend a day inside a kennel with a rescue dog.
“My kennel buddy this year was a beautiful dog called Sassy,” Path says.
“She is not even two years old yet, but has already had at least three litters before being abandoned by her backyard breeding owners.”
The day provides much needed exposure for many of the refuge’s long term residents in the hope of finding them suitable homes whilst raising much needed funds for the dogs’ care.
“Each participant is sponsored by family and friends, and for the past few years, the Home has been fortunate to have Tate Family Foundation provide a matching contribution of $25,000, which has greatly boosted the end result.”
The key message for anyone considering getting a dog is that pets are a 15 year project that involves an ongoing social, emotional and financial commitment.
“Training is critical, whether you have a puppy or an older dog,” Path says.
“Daily exercise and enrichment through chew toys and games are also critical, especially for teachers who may be leaving the dog for alone for many hours a day.
“My strongest advice would be to support your local rescue and adopt one of their dogs.
“Most rescue groups provide a behavioural assessment of the dog, if it is over six months old, which will identify if the dog is, firstly, suited to a home with fulltime workers.
“Not all dogs will be, so getting the right one is critical.
“It is better to choose the right dog for your lifestyle rather than choose based on breed.
“Rescues prioritise animal welfare over profits, want the best for dog and family and will provide post adoption support.
“We think ‘rescue is the best breed’!”
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